Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lots Fun on Fox4 News This Week! Defend against a surprise side attack

This week my time on Fox4 KC News was filled with lots of laughs; I think it's because prior to recording we were talking about how great the Renaissance Festival in Kansas City is (I love it!).  But this light-hearted mood led to a segment filled with jokes, talk of using a turkey leg as a weapon, and lots of "sound effects".  Apparently, the sounds effects were quite entertaining although I didn't even realize I was doing them!  Ha!  Fun times...

Check out this week's segment at:

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Friday, September 20, 2013

A Blessed Life...

My grandfather passed away this week.  Luckily, I took my kids down to see him and my grandmother last weekend so we were able to see him during his last days; something I feel very blessed for.  Seeing him in that state, and seeing my grandmother with him, has left me with a few images that will forever be imprinted in my mind.  Although his consciousness was fleeting, in the brief moments we did have, you could tell how much it meant to him to see his family and his great grandchildren.  In one moment, his reached out and held my 4 month old daughter's foot and he smiled with joy.  Another time, he just stared into my son’s eyes, almost in awe, finally saying: “he looks like you”.  And after each time we leaned over to tell him “we love you”, we got a “love you” in return.  These were some of the last words my grandfather spoke.  Wow.

But one of the images that has impacted me the most was from the last time we went in to see him.  He was not really conscious at the time so we went over to see my grandmother.  Soon after, she got up, walked over to his room (they were in a rehabilitation center together), saw his state, and just leaned over to give him a kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss on the lips; even from across the room you could feel how much she loves him; my heart ached for her.
They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year.  Actually, both sets of my grandparents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year.  Amazing.  I told each of them that they are an inspiration.  Although I am so saddened to think of my grandmother’s love passing on, I am moved to my core by how much they stood by each other, loving and supporting each other as one unit.
As my husband says, “that is a blessed life”.  I am reminded how important it is to tell and show your loved ones how much they mean to you.  And I am reminded how important it is to believe in them and support them. 
I think of my husband and how much we love and support each other; I would say we do an amazing job of that.  And I hope that we can be as blessed as my grandparents, with at least 70 great years together.
So, my test for my next black belt is tonight; I will let you know how it goes.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tone Your Triceps with the Tricep-Punch Combo

I’m down to a week for my next black belt test; wow.  There really is no way to cram years of training into a week of prep so all I can do now is walk through (mentally and physically) my material as much as possible and then trust in myself.  So, I have a whole week to combat any jitters that pop up with a mental pep talk of: “come on, I can do this!  I’ve got this!  I will get through it and I will do great!” etc. But to be honest, once you have the training and the practice, it’s your confidence and faith in yourself that is one of the biggest determining factors for how you will perform.

Today is a lovely dare-I-say (almost) Fall weather day.  I’m sitting here enjoying a bowl of freshly cut peaches, kiwi, and purple grapes (so sweet and satisfying who could need candy!) with a spaghetti squash in the oven to eat with my fresh picked tomato, zucchini, and pepper meat sauce.  Yum, yum, yum!  It’s an ultra healthy food day that makes me really appreciate the warm weather and the delicious foods we can grow.    I have a small garden in the back and although it’s my first year with it, and I definitely could have done a better job, there is still something so special and rewarding about going out to pick my own fruits and vegetables (especially with my son).
If you haven’t jumped into gardening, there is still time to jump in and try it out.  Broccoli and kale are two super green foods that love the cooler Fall weather.  Although we are past the prime time to plant, head to your local nursery to find matured vegetables you can still plant and harvest.  Plus, they can fill you in on what you need to do to help them thrive.  Later this Fall I will write up some of my favorite broccoli and kale recipes so we can all savor the bounty of our efforts together!  Live here in Kansas City?  I love going in to Soil Service Nursery Center on 71st and Troost; I always find them to be knowledgeable, helpful, and with quality plants.
This week we are going to focus on the arms with the:

Tricep-Punch Combo
Note:  You will want to use a hand weight to kick up the volume on this exercise.   Don’t have a hand weight?  Grab a can of soup, a bottle of water, or any other weighted item you can hold onto. 
Start in a mini lunge position with your left foot in front.  Pull your belly in, open and lift your chest, and relax your shoulders.  In addition, activate your thigh muscles and feel as though everything is pulling into your middle.  Hold the weight in your right hand and bring your hand up to your armpit (consider this your starting position).  From here, extend your hand out behind you, lifting up until your feel your tricep muscle activate; reset to your starting position.  Now punch out in front of you, pressing out with your tricep and pulling back in with your bicep.  This is one repetition.  Do 10-20 reps on each side for 2-3 rounds.
Have a great week and good luck with the veggies!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Active Breathing -- Calm the mind and center yourself

The importance of silence…

It has been quite a week, make that a month.  Like I’ve said before, I am an optimist.  An optimist and what I have dubbed: a solution finder.  Basically that means I always try to see the best in the world and when an issue comes up, rather than getting all worked up or wrapped up in drama, I simply go to finding “solutions” to take care of the issue…rework the path for merely a slight detour instead of getting stopped in a construction zone.  However, sometimes things build up so much that even my optimistic nature and solution finding abilities start to crumble a bit; I have found myself in a situation this week.
I think my limit happened last Thursday evening when we had to rush my son to the ER to get stitches.  Man, the look in his eye when they held him down to put 5 stitches between his eyes…I think that scene (and his face when he initially got hurt) will haunt me for quite awhile.  But in the end, it’s not just this one event that has taken it’s toll on me, but rather all of the recent events that seem to have put a vice on my heart and a weight on my shoulders.  So what to do…
The answer came yesterday evening when I went out to sit on my front steps for a few minutes, all by myself:  I need some time alone to just be.  Being out in nature with nothing going on around me except the wind blowing in the trees allowed me to just sit and breathe; breathe in calm and peace and exhale out the tension and stress I was holding onto.  I finally felt some of the weight being lifted off my shoulders and as though I could re-center myself.  The 5 minutes I had definitely wasn’t enough so in the evening, after my tennis lesson (I picked up tennis lessons after my daughter was born for something fun to do), I went for “a drive”.  I had the windows down and drove through all the pretty streets in my area.  No music.  No phone.  Just the gentle breeze and warm night air coming in through the windows.  And I realized here how easy it is to get caught up in the chaos of life; to always have something going on to distract us from just being, centering, and connecting with ourselves.  In this day and age we are constantly bombarded with information, noise, activity, technology, etc. that even when we have a few moments with “nothing to do” we fill it up!  But, the thing is, sometimes it’s in the simplicity of the silence that we can find peace.

This week, I encourage all of you to give yourself a few minutes to just sit and be.  Sit outside or sit inside, it really doesn’t matter (although outside adds in the meditative component of watching the breeze in the trees, the birds chirping, etc.); the key is to put away all of your distractions and just breathe.  Breathe in the silence, the calm, and all the potential life holds; and breathe out whatever is running you frazzled or weighting you down.

Active Breathing
This will be our exercise of the week.  Although it doesn't seem like much, learning how to breathe properly takes effort and dedication, just like toning your arms or your backside.  We will do this exercise standing but you can do it just as easily from a seated position. 
Start with your feet about hip width apart; roll you pelvis forward slightly feeling the lengthening in your lower back.  Pull your belly in, open and lift your chest, and relax your shoulders.  Feel your feet grounding you to the Earth and the crown of your head lifting up to the heavens.  Maintaining this position, inhale thru your nose, breathing all the way down into your lower lungs; this means your shoulders should stay stationary while your floating ribs (bottom ones) expand out.  Pause at the peak of the inhale, feeling the expansion in your body.  Now, slowly exhale from your belly, sighing out any tension or stress, centering your body and mind (your exhale should be audible).  Continue this breathing, in and out. 
Now, as you inhale, reach your arms out to the sides and up overhead, opening your chest as you go.  Again, pause at the peak of the inhale, lengthening your spine.  Exhale, slowly bringing your arms back down by your sides.  Inhale, lengthen; exhale, relax.  Repeat for 5-10 breaths.  Then, just stand or sit, continuing to fill up your body with good and center back in to yourself.  With proper breathing, you should feel at peace and yet invigorated at the end.
Cheers to all of us having a calming and centering week.